17th January, 2015
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state on Saturday alleged that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has perfected plans to use a section of students of the University of Benin to foment trouble in the state and create chaos, which he said could lead to loss of lives of innocent people.
Oshiomhole who made the allegation in a broadcast to the people of the state on Saturday, said the leadership of the PDP in the state held a meeting at the house of one of the candidates of the party where they planned to recruit students and thugs to set ablaze petrol tankers in strategic parts of Benin, the state capital.
He therefore called on parents to prevail on their children at the University of Benin and other tertiary institutions in the state not to be used by politicians.
The content of his address to the people of the state said: “They have held series of meetings including the one they held in the house of a candidate of the opposition party in the state. At that meeting which was held with a section of the students union government, huge sums of money was provided to the students to mobilize more people as the students resume on the 17th January. The idea is that by Monday, they will mobilize enough students with these funds provided by the leadership of the opposition party in this state to cause mayhem in Benin City.
“Part of the plan is that these students working and providing cover for party thugs will hijack petrol tankers, block roads with them and they anticipate, rightly, that the security agencies would resist them. They plan to set these tankers ablaze and in the process create confusion and in their estimation, this could easily lead to loss of lives. And of course they believe, rightly, that once there is loss of lives the situation would escalate and they believe they could profit from such violence.
“They are determined to hide under the cover of this issue between the University of Benin Management and Edo State Government to create a crisis and cause diversion.”
“I want to remind the university students and indeed the entire student community in Edo state, that Edo State Government has no dispute with the student community. Indeed, when we procured the comrade buses, Edo State Government gave one Comrade Bus to the students of the University of Benin for their use.
“We offered to pay the driver and we ordered the management of ECTS to maintain this vehicle at the expense of Edo state taxpayers for the comfort of the University of Benin students. We did not only provide them with the bus, but we also offered and are paying the salary of the driver. Just as we provided the bus to Ambrose Alli University students under the same terms and conditions. So Edo State Government has not discriminated against the students of the University of Benin and we will never do so.
“I want to advise the students not to be used or manipulated by frustrated politicians who have no political message even as electioneering is going on. Every student has a stake in the future of our country. Poltical contestations should be based on issues and ideas and not seeking to use innocent students to divert attention.
“So I want to appeal to you students to resist being used, and for those who have been compromised not to put their selfish interest over and above the collective welfare and indeed safety of thousands of innocent students of the University of Benin. I am satisfied and happy that many of the students are clear that these issues have nothing to do with the welfare of the student community as properties in the GRA are not in within the premises of the University of Benin.
“On the attempt to use petrol tankers and other forms of violence that are being planned with the opposition PDP, I urge them not to put their selfish interests over and above the security of innocent people.
“I have also asked the security agencies to everything possible to maintain law and order. Leadership requires that you find courage to do what to have to do in the public interest. I cannot subordinate the interest of the people of Edo state to private individual interest no matter how highly placed. If anyone believes our action is a violation of his or her rights, the only civilized thing to do is to go to court and seek the enforcement of those rights.
“I want to reassure the University of Benin that Edo State Government appreciates the contributions of the University to the growth and development of the state. Indeed they are our partners in progress. As I always say, as a government that is popularly elected accountable and responsive, we are always open to dialogue. And we remain open, even at this hour.”
The governor however said the state government was still open to dialogue with authorities of the University of Benin over the 18 properties of the state reclaimed from the university.